The rate of oral cancers linked to the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus rose dramatically over two decades, according to new government research.
Within a decade, these types of tumors might become the leading form of HPV-linked cancers, the researchers noted.
In the period between 1984 and 1989, just 16.3 percent of oral cancer samples tested positive for HPV. By 2000 to 2004, that number had jumped to 72 percent, the researchers found.
Results of the study were published online Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
HPV is a sexually transmitted virus known to cause cervical cancers. The authors suggest that the current rise in oral HPV may be due to an increase in oral sex.
There's currently a vaccine available to prevent infection with certain types of HPV. It's not known, however, if this vaccine could also prevent oral infections with HPV.